My mom and my sisters Edwina and Debbie.
Video by Peggy Button Barringer.
Good evening. I extend my warmest greetings to everyone attending the Heritage Heroes Award Ceremony. I’m sorry I can’t be with you in person, but please know that I am most definitely with you in spirit and honored to be receiving this award. The honor is magnified by it being given at Genesee Community College where I have attended many classes and have had art exhibits.
I would like to thank the Heritage Heroes Award Executive Committee for selecting me for this Award. My interest in local history goes back many years and is reflected in much of my art.
Orleans County is rich in history and subject matter. I have often sung the praises of Orleans County. In my travels I am frequently asked where I am from. When I tell them New York they invariably think I am from New York City. I point out that the county I am from doesn’t even have a city in it. I usually add that I grew up near swamps. Given time, I speak of our southern border being a National Wildlife Refuge and drained swamps we call the Muck. I speak of the Erie Canal running through the center of our county and our northern border consisting of a lake so great that you can’t see the other side of it. West of Orleans County is land which saves us from the lake effect snow that cripples Buffalo. Because of this we have a warmer climate creating a fruit belt and our bountiful orchards of apples, cherries and pears. We are sitting in a sweet spot.
The history of our area is rich too. Before Columbus, the great Iroquois Confederacy ruled the area in harmony with the land. Ridge Road was an ancient native trail and in the 14th century there was a fort built by the Neuter Indians down the road from where I grew up in Shelby Center. Apparently having a fort and being neutral didn’t help, as they were wiped out by the Seneca in the 1600s.
The Revolutionary War, the War of 1812 and the French and Indian wars all were fought in this area. Citizens of Orleans County served in the Civil War and the Underground Railroad was actively helping freed people cross into Canada with the help of the Quakers. Perhaps my very own cobblestone, which was built as a Quaker Meeting House in 1841 assisted in some way.
People all over the world are familiar with the Erie Canal, which helped make New York State the Empire State and gave birth to Holley, Medina and Albion. The canal also brought skilled tradesman who knew how to build cobblestone buildings. The combination of these skills and the availability of the stones created an abundance of cobblestone buildings rare to the rest of our country. I am proud to not only own one but to know that I have saved it from an early demise and have kept it’s history alive.
As a man who loves history and appreciates scenic views I feel very fortunate to live here. In my travels I will continue to be a good ambassador and sing the praises of my beloved Orleans County. I thank you all.
While the sacred fire heated up the stones (grandfathers) for the sweat lodge I sat among the drummers and sketched. As part of my preparation for the sweat ceremony I like to draw and the surrounding trees intrigue me. It helps me to focus on the moment to keep my thoughts from wondering. Two days ago on the Cattaraugus Reservation.
I finally got around to visiting my friend Poobah in Dowelltown Tennessee. His house was at the end of a long rive way and snuggled up to a hill and facing a valley with a spring fed creek winding around it. I was inspired to do some art right away. But it was still cold out so I sat at Poobah’s kitchen table and looked out the window and sketched this in pastels. When I first started studying art under Juanita Greene Parks I put encouraged to work in pastels. Its a combination of drawing and painting. I’m a little rusty so I decided to get back to where I started. I looked forward to returning and doing some more art.
At an early age…perhaps in my teens, I realized that I had an ability to draw but had a very limited knowledge of art. So I began a form of self-training by studying other artists in the hope of finding out what it meant to be an artist. The more I studied the more I found out that every artist was different. I would write down different quotes by various people as to what an artist was. All seemed to fit yet none was completely satisfying to me. I still didn’t know what the role of an artist was or what my purpose would be until I came across a quote by Bob Dylan which said, “The purpose of art is to inspire. What more can you do for people than inspire them.” I often would study an artist like Picasso and then do a corresponding painting. I did this oil painting of him some time in the late 70s. It is now lost to the ages…but I still have this picture.
I occasionally come across a piece of my art I have not seen in years or decades. Its often like coming across an old friend that I hadn’t even thought about for years. Sometimes its a friend I forgot even existed as in the case of this drawing I did of of my old friend Mark Brown back in the early 80s. I’m not sure why I did it so tiny. Its only 3″ x 3″. I did it with a Bic pen and a little color pencil on tan paper. Mark kept it all these years and just showed it to me. He will be playing at the Horse Show Bar in Medina tonight (10/20/17).
Shawn’s Gate is sponsoring a fundraiser October 7th, in Lewiston, NY. The proceeds are going to Breast Cancer Network of WNY. Mannequins were given out to artists who did their thing on them and then donated them back to the art auction fund raiser. I only had a vague idea when I started painting mine. It was fun to not plan. I just picked a color and dove in. I made it up as I went along and I did it all in one sitting. The fundraiser will be at 402 Center St. 2-6pm… but you don’t have to be there to bid. The Art Auction is 2-5:30. Special thanks to Barb Gray of Shawn’s Gates for putting this on.
Of late my creative tools have been hammers, saws and shovels. I figured drawing from a model would give me an opportunity to get back into my groove. I attended a painting session at the Lamp Lighter Gallery in Middleport, NY last night where they had this lovely model. It was good to spend some time with fellow artist both old and new. While others were painting I used the session to get back to the basics and I stayed with drawing. I used pencil and white charcoal on gray mat board. Although the model will hold the same pose for 3 sessions allowing people to complete finished paintings I decided to complete the work in one session. A little on the rough side but a good start I think. I’m not sure what I will do next week.